Date of Conferral





Public Policy and Administration


George Larkin


Many researchers and political experts have commented on the disenfranchisement of the citizenry caused by irresponsible use of power by the government that potentially violates the 4th Amendment rights of millions of people through secret mass surveillance programs. Disclosures of this abuse of power are presumably protected by the 1st Amendment, though when constitutional protections are not followed by the government, the result can be prosecution and imprisonment of whistleblowers. Using a critical autoethnographic approach, the purpose of this study was to examine the devolution of democratic governance and constitutional rights in the United States since 9/11. Using the phenomena of my signature indictment (the first whistleblower since Daniel Ellsberg was charged under the Espionage Act) and prosecution by the U.S. government, data were collected through interviews with experts associated with this unique circumstance. These data, including my own recollections of the event, were inductively coded and subjected to a thematic analysis procedure. The findings revealed that the use of national security as the primary grounds to suppress democracy and the voices of whistleblowers speaking truth to, and about, power increased authoritarian tendencies in government. These tendencies gave rise to extra-legal autocratic behavior and sovereign state control over the institutions of democratic governance. Positive social change can only take place in a society that has robust governance and social structures that strengthen democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, and do not inhibit or suppress them.